Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Monday 2nd June

Arrived in Mumbai after the JetAir flight from Heathrow...bleary-eyed and inevitably disorientated. Flight was what you would expect from 9 hours in the air with about 2 hours sleep. Watched two lousy movies. Rambo 4 - blimey that Sly Stallone has piled on the pounds - and (don't laugh) Alien vs Predator The Final Showdown (or whatever it was called). Haven't the faintest idea what it was about, but it did involve alot of white-toothed young Mid-Westerners getting ripped apart, which was fine by me. No problems at the airport apart from a little local difficulty at the final checkpoint where it transpired that a little strip of my clearance document had dropped off. One of the two heavily-tashed gents at the desk stopped me and after some toing and froing, declared that he had a problem and I had a problem, but that the said problem would disappear by the simple expedient of me slipping him twenty quid! I maintained that I didn't do that sort of thing and that another solution needed to be found. We stood there smiling cagily at eachother until his taciturn partner heaved a heavy sigh and waved me through. So out in the open I was. The heat was glorious and I chose a non-airconditioned cab to luxuriate, if that's the word, in the full furnace. An interesting journey ensued as we weaved in and out of buses and rickshaws, all driven by blokes with an apparently careless disregard for their own or indeed anybody else's safety. As if that wasn't thrilling enough, I discovered my driver hadn't the faintest idea where my hotel was. Given that it's the size of Buckingham Palace, you'd have thought that it was difficult to miss, but he asked around abit and we got there eventually. The looks on the faces of the security guards and the Marwahaesque sardar at the entrance to the JW Marriott as the elderly taxi wheezed its way through the gates was something to behold. This was quite clearly the most knackered old deathtrap which had ever deposited an honoured guest at their establishment. In the cathedral-like lobby, chilly after the broiling heat of Mumbai, I passed through the hands of no fewer than five smiling beautiful young people before I reached my room, all of whom asked after my general well-being, how my journey had been, whether this was my first time in Bombay and assured me that if there was anything I needed I only had to ask. So into my room, which surprised me by smelling of damp, but frankly I was too knackered (and too English) to make a fuss. And some shut eye...then unpacking and then exploring. But more of that later.

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